Successful Coping Skill for Self-Injury

Long time no see.

Grad school is stressful (duh) and living on my own, in a new state, means much less support. However, I’ve managed relatively well. I’ve caused some bumps along the way, but I still have my internship and I’ve passed 2 out of 3 semesters. I’m about 1/2 through with my last semester right now!

I haven’t forgotten about the peeps who are just here for the inspirational pic 😉

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However, this week, stress has come to a head. Long story short: I was battling severe Self-injurious behavior urges today.

Details: I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours because I am overwhelmed with the workload this semester and anxious I won’t pass. Granted, I am always anxious I won’t measure up. To be fair, this semester, the concern is warranted. I am currently failing one class. Uh oh!!

Using the syllabus I calculated the remaining possible points in the course and I can still pass as long as I do well on the midterm and final exams. The midterm is next week! I am extremely behind in reading. The exam is essay based and the questions come from the reading. Of course, this is no ones fault, but my own…

Anyway, the urges were intense enough that I was unable to function. I did not go to work yesterday. I got nothing done for school or my practicum, even though (for once) I was awake all day. This morning, intrusive images made it tough to distract from the urges. When suicidal thoughts and a plan entered the picture, I decided riding out the urges was not a safe option.

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In treatment, people sometimes held ice as a coping skill because it causes pain, but no tissue damage (as long as you are careful to watch for frostbite and are able to curtail the SIB urges enough to take off the ice as needed, if tissue damage begins). I find that a little helpful. The pain works to elevate my mood. However, blood is a strong motivation for me as well. It is a discriminative stimulus for relief from overwhelming negative emotions. The sight of my own blood is so strongly paired with SIB that without it, the compulsion remains.

Therefore, I tried something new! I froze ice cubes made by mixing red food coloring with water.

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It worked wonderfully!!! 🙂

 

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Next time I’ll do a few things differently. I’ll put a towel down under my arm to avoid staining. I got the red  out of the counter tops, but it took a few seconds with a Brillo pad. Additionally, I’ll have paper towels within reach.

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Surprisingly, the red dye came out of the silicon ice cube tray without a hitch,

The important take away is I avoided self-injuring despite struggling with the urges for over 24 hours.

 

If seeing blood and feeling pain are part of your self-injury, are there other ways you sublimate the urge? What works for you? I hope this helps someone avoid SIB.

 

 

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I’m Failing Them All

My boss always pushes hands on activities, but the only reason we have the kids in groups is so they can handle a group educational setting after transition. Therefore, maybe it is okay to lecture.
 
I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS.
 
What I am being asked to do is impossible (teach such variant grade levels in one class (1st grader, 3rd grader, 4th grader, and 5th grader in Group 1 and two 5th graders, an 8th grader, and a 9th grader in Group 2) with some only coming 1 or 2 days a week, while others come to all 4 classes/week), but I still feel like I’m failing everyone.
A few minutes after typing this, I started venting to Ginny anyway because WordPress was acting up and wouldn’t post. Yet, in talking to her, I felt like such a depressing, annoying, burden. So, I lied and said I had to go to dinner and I’d talk to her later. I cried for a minute, then I stopped fighting. I smashed a light-bulb and used its shards to cut. It was on my arm too!! That means my mom will notice. She’ll be so upset. FAIL.
I guess sleeping to cope only works for so long before you blow up with behaviors.

Ice Storm from Hell

A few kids were stuck at school until 7 pm. I finally got home! I have a bad track record driving in ice. So, Ginny drove me home even though it is (usually) 20 minutes out of her way. It took her 7 minutes just to get out of my neighborhood!

BEFORE the ice storm, my day was stressful and from about noon onward, I looked at the clock every 5 minutes wishing it was 3 pm.

I put myself with Joe because he was mad that I switched out his staff yesterday morning. He came to school in a bad mood. He ran to recess. I made him go back and walk with me and he spent the rest of recess banging on walls and running toward doors. I thought he was going to throw a chair at the new BCBA, but he just slammed it down next to her and hit the door. I’m surprised he didn’t melt down. He is the student who takes 4 or 5 adult men to keep him safe when he melts down.

Recess was insane as a whole. Gage had at least 2 timeouts, Ron told him to shut up, Sean played on the computer (there should be no tech on recess, but I picked my battles today), Joe, as I said, was running and hitting objects, John wound up in the Quiet Room after aggression because he couldn’t play with the foam blocks, David threw a temper tantrum because he didn’t win a game, and the new kid (who I haven’t made a pseudonym for) also wound up in the Quiet Room after trying to run away and then hitting whoever stopped him. Cory was the only safe, appropriate kid who followed directions!

Sean relatively good; as usual, he purposefully annoyed others. For morning work, we worked on a word wheel where you make as many words as possible using any of the eight outer letters once and always using the center letter once. Everyone engaged in solving the puzzle, but Jacob loved it best and kept working on it during lunch. He had 33 out of 44 words. During one of their breaks, Sean erased all his work. When Jacob noticed he ripped up his paper and started crying. At that point, someone walked in and said his bus was here early because of the approaching storm. Good timing!! Jacob didn’t know who did it and Sean was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

John was the last kid in our program at school. We were there over 3 hours past their usual time. The kids dealt with it better than I did. I scratched, bruised, and used my keys to cut when that wasn’t enough to help. My final exam is due Sunday and I haven’t studied much at all. I planned on studying, but I was stuck with the kids.

Also, someone left a pumpkin muffin on my window sill and I ate it and all the M&Ms I use as reinforcers for the kids. FAIL. I was going to purge, but Ginny was standing right next to one bathroom and one of the students was using the other bathroom. I refused their offer of dinner, but you can’t really call it restricting since I binged on stolen food.

Success!

Can we just take a moment and appreciate the fact that I’ve been alone for 5 days, went to work every day, maintained my weight, and didn’t restrict or cut? I want to tell Ginny because I’m proud of myself and I want her to be proud of me too, but she doesn’t want to talk about behaviors.